Posts filed under: Community Planning

Fair housing availability is an equality issue for entitlement communities across the country who receive Federal housing and community development funding to benefit their low- and moderate-income residents. The Fair Housing Act has been in place since 1968 to address housing discrimination and segregation but its impact has been limited. In December 2015, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enacted the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule to strengthen the Act with measurable outcomes. All Entitlement States, Counties and Cities are now required to complete an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) that analyzes their availability of fair housing and sets fair housing priorities and goals that are tracked by HUD. Manatee County recently completed their AFH Plan as the first in the State of Florida.

Manatee County developed their AFH Plan in collaboration with the Manatee County Housing Authority with Wade Trim’s assistance. During the 6-month process to identify barriers to fair housing, HUD’s AFFH Data and Mapping Tool was used to identify patterns of segregation and integration, racially- or ethnically-concentrated areas of poverty, disparities in access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs. Local data and knowledge was also incorporated into the tool. Community participation was encouraged through online surveys and meetings with housing stakeholders that resulted in the involvement of 20 agencies and more than 250 individuals.

“The extensive public outreach we used to craft area-specific strategies for our Assessment of Fair Housing Plan will help us address fair housing issues throughout Manatee County,” says Geraldine Campos Lopez, Director of Manatee County’s Redevelopment and Economic Opportunity Department.

Survey results revealed that the County is lacking affordable housing, local enforcement of fair housing laws, and code enforcement on substandard rental units. In addition, blighted structures exist in some areas. Eight goals were established to address the specific fair housing issues and contributing factors identified through community participation and analysis. Progress towards achieving these goals will be reported to HUD over the next five years through the implementation of the County’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan. According to the AFFH Rule, goals identified in the AFH must inform the strategies and actions of the Five-Year Consolidated Plan.

Wade Trim has provided planning services to Manatee County for the past 10 years including assistance with three previous Five-Year Consolidated Plans, Annual Action Plans, and Citizen Participation Plan updates. In addition, on-going community development services have included project management assistance and administrative support, GIS services, public surveys, stakeholder meetings, and public involvement.

The City of Frankfort’s City Council recently adopted their Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Development Plans to promote year-round growth, encourage preservation, establish placemaking strategies and prevent deterioration in downtown Frankfort, MI. The TIF District is projected to capture $2.2 million over the next 25 years to fund ongoing operations and projects administered by the DDA. Near term goals include completing the Beach-to-Beach Trail, developing a Downtown Promotions and Marketing Strategy, and operating a parking shuttle or trolley service to move visitors between satellite parking, downtown and Lake Michigan beach areas. The TIF capture will also fund ongoing programs such as developing a Downtown Frankfort social media presence and a business incubator program.

From the beginning of the process in 2009, Wade Trim has helped the City develop a vision for the next 25 years and update their Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance to begin implementing that vision. The Master Plan recommended creation of a DDA, accomplished in 2014, and the TIF District as a funding mechanism to achieve their downtown development goals.

Coastal communities have the potential to provide vital economic, social and recreational opportunities that build on their natural resources. A strategic approach is needed to guide the growth and development of valued waterfront assets. The Charter Township of Harrison, MI, completed a Waterfront Redevelopment Plan that reflects the community’s long-term vision for a four-season waterfront that blends commercial development, environmental protection, mixed uses, and multi-modal transportation.

Located among more than 50 active marinas on Lake St. Clair’s Macomb County coast, Harrison Township seeks to become a premier waterfront destination by strengthening its water-based recreation and commerce. Wade Trim assisted the Township with securing a Michigan Coastal Zone Management Grant, studying waterfront redevelopment feasibility issues and completing their Waterfront Redevelopment Plan. In addition, a Downtown Development Authority was formed and Tax Increment Finance Plan completed to support waterfront redevelopment initiatives.

The Waterfront Redevelopment Plan, prepared as a Subplan to the Township’s 2010 Master Plan, focuses on the 660-acre waterfront district surrounding Crocker Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue. Shaped through a visioning process, the Plan incorporates stakeholder and public input gathered through interviews and a workshop. Key recommendations include preserving the marinas with phased improvements, redeveloping underutilized waterfront properties, encouraging infill commercial development along Jefferson Avenue, and providing more public and recreational access to the waterfront. Development of a new waterfront, mixed-use destination called “Pier Place” is also planned as a recreation and entertainment complex contiguous with marinas and the core commercial area.

“The Coastal Zone Management Grant gave our Board the courage to explore ways to improve one of our waterfront neighborhoods,” stated Kenneth Verkest, Harrison Township Supervisor. “As a result, we are capturing new revenue that will be used to fund public improvements in the area. We are also planning a zoning overlay for the area to encourage a more walkable district and revitalize older properties that are currently limited in their value due to current zoning.”

With limited area available for new growth, the City of Sterling Heights, MI, seeks to create a sustainable future through land use and parks and recreation development. The City’s population of 130,000 has increased by more than 100% since 1970 with only 5% of its 36.8 square miles still available for development. Wade Trim is leading a team of professional firms to update the City’s Master Land Use Plan and Parks and Recreation Master Plan over the next 18 months.

Located within one of southeast Michigan’s most prominent economic growth corridors, the City is home to more than 3,500 commercial and industrial businesses including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler Assembly Plant, Ford Motor Company’s Sterling Axle Plant, and Lakeside Mall, a 1.5 million-square-foot shopping center. The City also draws more than 500,000 people annually to Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, a premier outdoor entertainment venue.

Building on its strengths, the City is turning its planning attention to in-fill development proposals and redevelopment opportunities, while simultaneously protecting and preserving established neighborhoods. It is also exploring placemaking strategies – quality of place, scale, mix and connections – to attract the next wave of residents, including identifying key opportunities to expand the park system. The Plans will be market-driven, based on a deeper understanding of the market preferences for housing, desired leisure activities, and the discretionary spending habits of residents.

Extensive public engagement will be used throughout the planning program including an interactive project website, a community-wide Vision Fair, two community forum events, quarterly broadcasts on the City’s cable television station, and multiple study meetings with the City’s Planning Commission. The planning program is expected to be complete by fall 2016.